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Music review

Dan McKinnon

Dan McKinnon

Edinburgh Folk Club

Rob Adams

Dan McKinnon tells a good story about the time the then-young, budding singer-songwriter went backstage to meet his hero, fellow Canadian Stan Rogers, with all sorts of questions in mind, only to baulk at Rogers' imposing physicality and squeak a weedy "I've got all your records" instead.

But if Rogers has been an important influence, so too were the fireside storytelling sessions of McKinnon's grandmother, and true tales like the hellish collision in the harbour narrows of Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the First World War that saw 2000 souls perish and huge numbers more blinded just by seeing the impact between a Norwegian vessel and a French ship laden with TNT.

McKinnon has something of Rogers' rich, robust, almost light-operatic singing style, as well as his liking for reportage, but the gift for storytelling also clearly runs in the family. Add a deft, well-orchestrated finger-picking guitar style and a nice line in self-deprecation, and McKinnon presents an agreeable package, if one that might appeal more in smaller portions than a two-set folk club gig.

His voice has a tendency towards the overbearing and bombastic and his guitar's tuning caused the occasional wince, but he does have a talent for connecting with his audience and creating a sense of community with a sing-along chorus. If his song about his grandma staying true to the long-departed man of her dreams was a little mawkish, he balanced this with a well-put, neat, ragtime-accompanied hymn to his own ageing, an insightful observation on war brides and fine, bold readings of Rogers' eloquently atmospheric White Squall and Northwest Passage.

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